Tournament Format

  1. Regional and State History Bowls (a few states will have none, some will have more than 1 tournament at different locations within the state) will be held throughout the USA from October – March. Any school can compete, whether public, private, parochial, magnet, or otherwise. Middle schools are strongly encouraged to send teams to compete as well; elementary schools are allowed to compete, but should be prepared for the level of difficulty. Homeschoolers may also compete, either in associations, with the regular (i.e. non-magnet) public schools within the district the homeschooler lives, with other homeschoolers from the same county, or with homeschoolers from neighboring counties, as long as the combined population of the counties does not exceed 500,000.
  2. There are no geographic restrictions on participation; theoretically a team from Maine could compete in Hawaii. Teams who win state tournaments who are not from that state are designated “State Tournament Champion” while the “State Champion” designation then goes to the next highest ranking team who was from the state where the tournament was held. In California and New York, and states lacking a tournament, the “State Champion” designation will be applied at NHBB’s discretion after the completion of all of the Regional tournaments within those states.
  3. The only restriction on attendance is that neither schools nor individuals may compete at more than one tournament using the same set of questions. If one student attends a tournament, then all students from that school are subsequently barred from attending tournaments using the same question set. There are 3 question sets in use in 2014-2015. Set C is comparatively the easiest, followed by Set B, then Set A. The length of questions in Sets B and C are comparable; Set A features slightly longer questions, as does the National Championships. Some Junior Varsity questions will be slightly easier and shorter than their Varsity equivalents, and in certain regions, NHBB may run both the Varsity and Junior Varsity divisions on the JV version of the questions. This will not be the case at any A Set tournament, however.
  4. Middle schoolers may play on high school teams for the regular public (i.e. non-magnet) high school they would be expected to attend.
  5. Junior Varsity teams must contain no students in grades 11 or 12. Some Junior Varsity (and possibly middle school teams) may need to compete against Varsity teams during tournaments. If there is only one JV or middle school team at a tournament, it will play as any other team in the draw, and it must win at least one match over the course of the day to qualify for JV Nationals. Middle schools must also win at least one game to qualify for Middle School Nationals if they play at least one other middle school; otherwise, the top 50% of teams qualify. If there are exactly two teams in either the JV or Middle school division, they will play each other in a final, with the team with the best overall record (or point total if tied), taking a 50 point advantage into the final match.  If there are three or more JV teams, then only games played in the division count for determining JV rank. Games against JV teams always count for determining Varsity rank. A .500 record or better against either 1) teams in one’s division (JV only) or 2) against all teams played, is necessary to qualify for Nationals.
  6. Varsity teams who finish in the top 2-32 teams (depending on the number of teams in the tournament) in the preliminary rounds at the Regional or State History Bowls make the playoffs. The number of JV teams who make the playoffs will also depend on how many such teams compete. Typically, roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of the teams at most tournaments will make the playoffs. The number of playoff rounds will be announced the morning of the tournament. Generally speaking, if there are 6 teams or less, then one round is played. With 7-12 teams, two rounds are played. With 13-24 teams, three rounds are played. With 25-40 teams, four rounds are played. With over 40 teams, 5 rounds are played. These are general guidelines though, and should not be taken as an official rule. Teams who win a playoff match and who did not qualify previously for the National Championships, due so by virtue of their playoff win.
  7. Any team that would otherwise qualify to play in the Junior Varsity Division may elect to play in the Varsity Division of the State History Bowls if they so choose. If they do not qualify for Nationals at the Varsity level, they are eligible to submit a Wild Card application for entry into the JV National Championships based on their performance. They can do this by emailing the Executive Director at: director@historybowl.com. JV teams that compete in the Varsity Division at the Regional or State Bowls and qualify for the Varsity National Championships, but who wish to compete in the JV Division at Nationals are permitted to do this. Qualification slots ARE allowed to be transferred from one division (Middle, JV, or Varsity) to another for Nationals, though a high school cannot transfer its qualification to a middle school in its district and vice versa.
  8. Schools are welcome to register as many teams as they would like at each Regional or State Bowl.
  9. Schools are required to bring at least one coach/parent/other adult in order to read and keep score or pay a $50 penalty fee. Schools bringing three or four teams must bring two readers/scorekeepers; schools bringing five or more teams must bring three readers/scorekeepers. Penalty fees are assessed by school, but vary by number of teams; i.e. a school with 3 teams and no reader pays $100 in penalty fees. Please do not make us have to enforce this rule, and please let us know in advance if your advisor refuses to read!
  10. For information on the structure of the National Championships, please click on the “Nationals Information” link to the left.
  11. Prizes awarded at the Regional and State Bowls and the National Championships may include book prizes, trophies, in-kind prizes from sponsors,  and scholarships. Prizes will vary from one tournament to another depending on sponsors. The amount and number of prizes at the National Championships have yet to be determined, but will certainly include prize money for the top teams. In 2014, our chief sponsors HISTORY and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt generously provided $25,000 worth of prizes at NHBB’s National Championships.
  12. For a full set of rules regarding tournament format, eligibility, and other matters, please click on the “Official Rules” tab to your left.